The folks that never quite manager to bring us the $100 laptop are at it again. This year the One Laptop Per Child group will be introducing an 8 inch tablet that sells for less than $100.
The XO 3.0 will reportedly have a 1024 x 768 pixel display, a Marvell Armada PXA618 ARM-based processor, and 512MB of memory. The tablet will be available with Google Android or Sugar OS, a custom Linux-based operating system originally designed for the XO Laptop.
Some models may also be available with a Pixel Qi sunlight readable display. Pixel Qi’s screens have two modes. With the backlight on they’re full color LCD displays. But if you cut the backlight, you can view text and images on the screen using ambient light — although they’ll look more like E Ink grayscale displays in that mode.
Like the XO Laptop, the goal is to position the XO tablet as a low-cost computing device for students in the developing world. The tablet is said to get up to 10 hours of battery life, and it can be recharged with solar cells, hand cranks, or other devices.
This all sounds like a pretty big deal — but a lot of these promises sound familiar. The XO Laptop was supposed to sell for $100, but its price never really dipped far below $200. OLPC also never released a long-promised hand crank charging solution for the laptop.
There’s some reason to believe that a $100 laptop is a more achievable goal though. Last year the Indian government started shipping $35 tablets to students in that country. They’re not very good tablets, but it demonstrates that it’s possible to make very cheap yet usable Android tablets given the availability of inexpensive supplies.
OLPC has been working on its tablet designs for the last few years and we’ve seen a number of concept drawings, but it won’t be clear exactly what the new models look like until we see them at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Update: OLPC has posted the first few pictures of the new tablet.